At 16, what do you think your biggest worry should be?
Getting along with your parents?
Apologizing after an argument with a friend?
Organizing a charity drive at school?
Getting good grades?
Mapping out your future?
Surviving incoming gunfire while trying to reload your weapon?
I’ll just assume you would say no to that last one. Yet it’s estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 youth under the age of 18 are currently serving in government or rebel armies around the world.
The launch of a movement to abolish the use of child soldiers around the globe took place in Toronto this past Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2010.
Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, commander of the 1994 United Nations force in Rwanda during the devastating genocide and author of the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning book Shake Hands With the Devil, has begun to enlist soldiers into the Zero Force army.
Romeo Dallaire talks about his experience to the crowd of high school students in Toronto
Emmanuel Jal, Romeo Dallaire and MuchMusic’s Sarah Taylor
This army is not composed of weapons for destruction but of youth who are determined to make a difference. Dallaire insists technology is the key to unlocking widespread change and former child soldier and current rapper Emmanuel Jal agrees, “those [Twitter, Facebook, Skype] are the bombs,” he’s says.
On Human Rights Day, activists Roméo Dallaire, MuchMusic’s Sarah Taylor, Shaun Boothe and Emmanuel Jal all spoke and performed for high school students across Toronto.
I could see in the eyes of over a hundred students that these role models were not only inspirational, but also motivational. From the unbreakable silence during a pause in Dallaire’s speech, to the cheers and roaring applause from students in the auditorium, there’s no doubt that today’s youth are shooting for change.
Emmanuel Jal gets the crowd excited about helping with the cause
Emmanuel Jal, Romeo Dallaire and Shaun Boothe
Mallorie Bronfman-Thomas and former child soldier turned rapper Emmanuel Jal
Written by Faze contributor (and photographer) Mallorie Bronfman-Thomas